A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world, or fantasy world, involving humans and/or animals, or perhaps even fantasy or alien creations. Commonly having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is often developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time: months or even years.
You know the feeling when you hear something for the first time and you’re immediately in love? Every note on every instrument resonates on every level. You can’t get enough of it and you want it all around you. Some people say that when you travel to a new country or go on vacation, trying a new experience will forever remind you of that same trip — I feel the same can be said with Washed Out’s music. You’ll always remember the first time you heard your favorite song, where you were, what you felt, who you were with. Washed Out’s music conjures so many memories it’s hard to decipher one from the other.
While I grew up listening to all types of music, the genres and bands that really told musical stories and resonated with me have stuck with me to this very day. Bands/producers like The Postal Service, Animal Collective and M83 really occupy a small niche of music that is held in higher regard than most. The Postal Service released one album and a few B-sides over their short career, yet they’re praised like no other. M83’s music conveys a sense of epicness in every track. Washed Out’s music sounds like a breezy, overcast afternoon on the Northern California coastline. The waves ascend and retract up the shore and salty air fills your nose.
Washed Out is a project that Ernest Greene started after being unable to find a job post-college in Georgia. He moved back in with his parents and started making music in his bedroom. He collaborated with an artist named Bedroom on lo-fi dance tracks that soon gained the attention of listeners looking for something new. Washed Out’s music is associated with the genre Chillwave. Perhaps citied as being one of the founding producers, the music is known for it’s use of analog synthesizers, effects, looping and sampling. Obviously, over the past few years we’ve seen chillwave grow, change and stem-off into a million sub-genres, but that original sound is captivating.
Greene’s second full-length, Paracosm, is like listening to life being painted with pastel colors. Everything is smooth and slightly out of focus, hazy even. He carries over a similar style from Within and Without and his previous two EPs. Instrumentalism is key; soft, hushed vocals provide a melodic and soothing drone, and the bedroom-produced sound still hangs onto each track. Paracosm is best listened to in-full. Like the continuous motion of a boat on the sea, you’re never sure where one wave stops and another begins.
Alright, now let’s get down to the details. Nearly two months ago, Washed Out premiered the first single, “It All Feels Right”. Still, after listening to the album on repeat the last few days, this single puts a smile on my face. Probably the most uplifting and feel-good track on the album, Ernest provides the melody via a chorus of strings and rhythm from strumming an acoustic guitar. You can’t help but sing-along once you’ve learned the lyrics. Watch the official music video.
About a month later, Ernest dropped the second single, “Don’t Give Up” via his SoundCloud page. The track is a little slower and more nostalgic than the previous single. “Don’t Give Up” gives us a fine example of where Ernest’s chillwave sounds originated. The chorus of the track harkens back to 80’s synthesizer sounds which sweep and peak then descend like a wave in the ocean. Plus, how unbelievably beautiful is the music video below. It’s like more vibrant Planet Earth (with a better soundtrack too).
Simply put, Washed Out’s Paracosm hits home with my personal tastes; it capsulated the sounds I love and doesn’t tip-toe around it or half-ass it. The instrumentation is varied and there is no lack of fun melodies from instruments you’d least expect. The nostalgia-factor is higher than ever and it’s not hard to hear the memories Ernest is creating audibly. Ernest Green’s effort on the new album is nothing short of spectacular. Whether you’re cruising through the city on your bike on a humid summer day, sailing in the San Fran bay or enjoying the beach in the gulf, this album will hit the spot. Buy this album, hit play and see what it does for you.